As the doctor walks between rows of bodies, people lift funeral shrouds to reveal the faces of children and babies, some with severe head injuries. The grainy eight-minute footage is the most compelling evidence to emerge of what may be the biggest loss of civilian life during the Afghanistan war.
These are the images that have forced the Pentagon into a rare U-turn. Until yesterday the US military had insisted that only seven civilians were killed in Nawabad on the night of August 21. Villagers and the UN insist that 92 were killed, including as many as 60 children.
Locals say that the US and Afghan troops who came into the village, with US air support, used excessive force. Residential compounds were leveled by US attack helicopters, armed drones and a cannon-armed C130 Spectre gunship.
The villagers’ accounts have been supported by separate investigations conducted by the UN, by Afghanistan’s leading human rights organization and by an Afghan government delegation. Last night the Pentagon announced that it was reopening the investigation in the light of “emerging evidence”.
A Human Rights Watch report due to be published is highly critical of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan for the number of civilians killed in airstrikes. It gives warning that repeated instances of Western forces killing Afghan civilians have led to a collapse in popular support for the international presence.